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Undisputed king of ghazal

mumbai Updated: Oct 11, 2011 01:54 IST
Reetika Subramanian
Reetika Subramanian
Hindustan Times
Jagjit Singh

The first time Jagjit Singh heard the unrecorded version of the track, 'Choli ke peeche kya hai' from Subhash Ghai's Khalnayak in 1993, he was shocked by it bold lyrics.

"Jagjit was the original choice for the male playback in the song. He loved the tune, but was doubtful if his classical background would suit the (raunchy) tone of the song," said Ghai, recounting his experiences with Singh, who passed away at Mumbai's Lilavati Hospital on Monday morning. "Eventually, he rendered the soulful number 'O Ma Tujhe Salaam' in the film which went on to become a huge hit." The singer’s life and times

A tribute

Dubbed as the 'Ghazal King', Singh, 70, was admitted to the Bandra hospital after he suffered a brain haemorrhage on September 23. He will be cremated at Chandanwadi crematorium at 4.30pm on Tuesday.

"It is a great loss. His contribution to music cannot be paralleled by any other artiste," said singer Hariharan, adding that "Jagjit's death is a personal loss".

Born as Jagmohan Singh in Rajasthan in 1941, the ghazal singer was rechristened Jagjit by his father, Amar Singh Dhiman. The singer trained under Pandit Chhaganlal Sharma and then later under Ustad Jamal Khan of Sainia gharana for six years and learned Khayal, Thumri and Dhrupad forms.

Singh, who came to Mumbai in 1961, returned to his hometown, Jalandhar, after failing to get a break in Bollywood. It was in 1982, that Singh and wife Chitra, also a trained ghazal singer, got noticed for their soulful renditions in Mahesh Bhatt's film, Arth. "Jagjit reinvented the idiom of 'ghazal' by introducing the 12 string guitar and the bass guitar in mainstream ghazals," said Bhatt.

In 2003, Singh was awarded the Padma Bhushan. "Jagjit was India's greatest ghazal exponent of this generation. He took the genre of music to the masses in and enriched the lives of many," said vocalist Pandit Jasraj.